Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Ride of My Life....



I listed "carnival worker" in my list of jobs and Tammy wanted to know a bit more about it.. hmmm


I think, for the most part, I have led a semi boring life, laced with weeks and months of fun and excitement. It's those times, that I have to look back on that remind me... gosh, if Amy hadn't come along when she did... (well.. maybe I should just leave that as an open sentence.. lol)


When I was 18, I was living in a nice little duplex apartment, had a job at the local supermarket (which I hated because the owner literally chased me from aisle to aisle.. dang old married pervert) I had a nice boyfriend and thought things were going really well. Then Gary the nice boyfriend did the unthinkable... he started talking marriage and settling down. Now, you have to take in to consideration that this was in 1977.. settling down was so... throw back, so .. your parents.. heck we were already living together, why ruin a good thing with some crazy ceremony and committment papers?!


So I did what I was most famous for doing.. I started to pull away. Started spending more time with my girlfriends. One weekend the local county fair was going on. You know the type... FHA kids showing their farm animals in one area, grandmas getting prizes for their quilts and secret recipe apple pies in another area and the draw for the teenagers, the carnival midway on the far end.


Judy and I made big plans to have the time of our life. We rode every ride (most free of charge!) and ended up meeting a couple of the carnival ride workers. It was the last night the fair was in town.. so they guaranteed us a huge party once the fireworks show had ended, while all the rides were being dismantled and everything was being loaded in to the semi's to move onto the next town.


I found myself buddied up with "Blondie" the guy who ran the ferris wheel while my girlfriend paired up with "Tiny" the tilt-a-whirl operator. Dang these guys could party! The whole carnie crew were party animals... it was an 18 year old "Boy, could I turn into an alcoholic real easy"s dream come true!


Then Blondie came up with this brilliant plan, talked to the owner of the Amusement Rides and the next thing I know, I was guaranteed a job in the ticket booth with a salary of $125.00 a week and all the "walks" I could keep. Poor Judy only landed a job working the dime toss game... but when the fair left town early that morning... I was sitting in the semi pulling the ferris wheel...


Hmmmmm.. Gary who? Geez.. I was rotten back then! I did call from the next town and told him where I was.. and told him I wouldn't be back. I sent one of my friends to get my stuff from the duplex and put it in a storage unit for my return someday. (I will have to tell you another story about how I lost my best friend Suzy because of this storage unit another time)


The next 4 weeks until the carnival closed down for end of season is a non-stop blur of fair working, ride constructing, and deconstructing, traveling, walking the midway, learning all the games and non-stop parties all night every night. (although I gave up the heavy drinking after the first 2 weeks) How I didn't die of alcohol poison in that short time I will never know. Between what we drank straight out of the bottle and all the extras like the watermelons filled with fifths of vodka that marinated half the day.... ewww I shudder to even think about it now.


I made a fortune in a couple towns on those "walks" I was offered. For those unaware of this term... when someone comes to the ticket booth and orders say an $8.00 book of tickets and hands you a twenty... then gets distracted by all the kids pulling them in 6 different directions, they are known quite often to "walk" away and forget to get their change. I always knew who did and if they returned I gave them their change.. but it was rare they would return... most days I made more than my weekly salary in walks..


I made some terrific friends among those carnies. Most towns people hated us all, but some truer people I have never found.. granted most of us were running from something.. whether it was family, relationships, the law, or just themselves... we all had ghosts..


My girlfriend Judy only lasted for a couple weeks and then she headed back home, but I traveled with the carnival until they hit the winter storage area. (By then Blondie was also known as Lenny) .. one week after we left the carnival and drove off he would be called my husband and three months after that he would be known as that jerk I was stupid enough to marry... lol


Would I have been better off staying home and marrying Gary?? Nahhh look at all the fun and memories I would have missed!


Ok... I can't be the only one to do something crazy like this am I??

1 comment:

SeattleTammy said...

Great story Deesue! I always wanted to run away and join the circus, but never had the guts to. But a Carny? that's amazing!

thanks for telling us!

oxo